Bubbles and Sweets
For Valentine’s Day, pair a rosy sparkling wine with a lovingly crafted dessert.
The holiday for lovers falls on a Tuesday this year, but even the busiest valentines deserve recognition. Why not mark the day with a flavorful treat for your special someone?
Popping the cork on a bottle of sparkling wine has traditionally signaled a celebration, and this February 14th, you can toast your sweetheart with any one of a number of wines that make a perfect match with delectable sweets from your favorite patisserie.
I happen to love the pale color and bubbles of rosé champagnes and sparkling wines, and enjoy what an appealing presentation they make when poured into beautiful crystal flutes and set beside an artful and extravagant dessert—an appropriate flourish for a romantic Valentine’s Day. Pink champagne and chocolate? Bliss.
First, the sweets:
When you meet the proprietors of Fairfield’s Isabelle et Vincent, you will understand their expertise when it comes to food for lovers. Vincent and Isabelle Konig arrived in the United States from France in 2007; the youngest of the seven generations of pâtissiers in his family, Vincent’s craft is in his DNA, and Isabelle is clearly his muse.
Each Valentine’s Day, Vincent carefully assembles a unique chocolate or pastry valentine for his wife, a special gift for his own beloved. He will also turn out thousands of handmade, exquisitely melt-in-your-mouth chocolate hearts and raspberry-kissed chocolate lips, beautifully packed in heart printed tissue in the bakery’s signature boxes, for the shop’s legion of devoted customers.
“In France, St. Valentine’s day is considered a lover’s holiday,” says Isabelle. “But when our nine-year-old son came home from school with a huge handful of cards after his first Valentine’s day in America, we realized that here, the holiday is for everyone.”
Accordingly, they package their chocolates, French marzipan roses, heart-shaped macaroons and Valentine cakes, sized for two, for a family, or for a gathering of friends.
Usually closed on Mondays, the store will be open February 13th for the benefit of Valentine shoppers.
Then, the bubbles:
Stopping at Franco’s in New Canaan, I spotted more than an armful of tempting champagne choices, ranging from non-vintage Laurent-Perrier Cuvée Rosé and Veuve Clicquot Rosé, to a bottle of vintage 1998 Dom Perignon Rosé ($62-450). True champagnes, from the eponymous region of France, have a distinctive quality derived from a complex winemaking process that is reflected in their price, and many wine lovers consider their fragrance and delicacy to be well worth the expense. However, when it comes to sparkling wine, choices from around the world abound. California has at least a dozen sparklers, and Australia, Spain, Italy and many other wine-producing countries export them to the U.S.
A few steps from the Avenue in Greenwich, Continental Fine Wines had two great values on offer. Italy’s bone-dry, tiny-bubbled proseccos have won many fans in Fairfield County, and store manager Jim D’Onofrio showed me two popular pink prosecco-style wines. I first tasted Pink, from Riondo, at a fashion show in the city, and was so taken with its light, slightly fruity flavor that I asked to see the label. It was a delight to find it again at the William Street shop. Another recommendation is a Valdo Nerello Mascalese Brut Rosé, which has prosecco grapes in its mix, a lovely aroma and, like the Riondo wine, a light, fruity taste. Both retail for less than $15 a bottle. For wine lovers further east in the county, Continental has a sister store, Vintage Fine Wines, in Wilton.
Finally, for the cocktail lover, California’s Domaine Chandon makes excellent pink sparkling wines.
Here’s a recipe for La Vie en Rosé (can’t you hear Edith Piaf right this minute?) cocktails, and an appropriate Valentine’s Day image:
- Douse one sugar cube in rose water and place at the bottom of a sparkling wine flute.
- Slowly add Chandon Rosé or Chandon Reserve Pinot Noir Rosé within an inch of the top of the flute.
- Add 1/2 ounce fresh strawberry purée and garnish with a strawberry slice.
- Makes one cocktail.